Blood is a PC first-person shooter that utilizes Ken Silverman's Build engine, developed by both 3D Realms and Monolith Productions. Though it was conceived and partially developed by 3D Realms, prior to its completion the game and all rights were sold to Monolith as detailed in a press release on January 22, 1997. This was ostensibly meant to allow 3D Realms the ability to focus on Shadow Warrior, which was being developed concurrently. Monolith completed the game as well as an expansion pack entitled Blood Plasma Pak, which were both released in 1997 (a second expansion, Cryptic Passage for Blood, was developed by Sunstorm Interactive).
The version of the Build engine used for Blood included a number of upgrades, most prominent being the ability to display voxel-based objects. This feature was used significantly throughout the game in place of flat sprites, highlighting both weapon and item pickups as well as certain environmental objects such as tombstones, chairs, and barrels. Unlike other contemporary Build engine titles, Duke Nukem 3D and Shadow Warrior, Blood's source code was never publicly released, thus no source ports exist for it, and it must still be played through its original DOS executable.
The gameplay of Blood is very similar to that of other FPS games of its era such as Doom and Duke Nukem 3D. The player is presented with four episodes, which can be played in any order. Each one consists of eight or nine levels (with one secret level per episode) that the player must fight through, with the last level invariably containing that episode's boss. In addition to combat with various types of enemies, most levels require the use of switches and up to six keys in order to advance to the exit. As was the hallmark of its predecessor, Duke Nukem 3D, levels in Blood often place a high emphasis on interactivity, incorporating numerous destructible elements and various objects that can be interacted with for no reason other than increasing the player's immersion.
True to its name, a significant effort was made to amp up the blood and violence over other Build engine games. Zombies can be decapitated and their heads kicked like soccer balls, various enemies can be set on fire to run screaming throughout the levels, and blood flows copiously from enemies at even the simplest of attacks. The game's health system was also relatively novel. Caleb relies for the most part on Life Essence to heal himself, which is dropped by enemies upon death, rather than on preset health pickups used in most first-person shooters at the time. Another innovative aspect of the game was its weapons. Blood boasts alternate firing modes for a large portion of the game's arsenal (a fairly uncommon feature in 1997), ranging from rather straightforward options like firing both barrels of a double-barreled shotgun to more outlandish ones such as lighting and throwing an aerosol can.
Blood puts players in the shoes of Caleb, a protagonist much in the same tongue-in-cheek vein as Duke Nukem and Lo Wang. While the Duke Nukem and Shadow Warrior franchises focused on satirizing action and martial arts movies respectively, Blood traffics in the tropes and mores of the horror genre. The referential humor of the game draws from many sources, from horror classics like The Shining and Friday the 13th, cult films like Army of Darkness, to non-horror classics such as Jaws. Caleb is the game's anti-hero, a sadist and former cultist on a quest for revenge after being killed by Tchernobog, the evil god he once worshiped. In keeping with the game's darker leanings, Caleb is not portrayed as a particularly empathetic character. He will often laugh gleefully in the midst of slaughtering his foes, and will even willfully kills innocents.
As the game begins, Tchernobog has called his Chosen, Caleb, Ophelia, Ishmael, and Gabriel, to a gathering in the Hall of the Epiphany. When they ask what he desires, they are surprised to find he is displeased with them, and they are quickly set upon by Tchernobog's minions. Ishmael is cremated by Cerberus, Gabriel is carried off by Shial who descends from the ceiling, and Ophelia, Caleb's love, is abducted by Cheogh. Finally, Caleb himself is killed personally by Tchernobog, and buried thereafter.
At the start of the game's first level, "Cradle to Grave," Caleb awakens in his own tomb. Upon returning to life by unknown means, Caleb exclaims "I live... again!" Thus he begins his quest, seeking vengeance for his fallen comrades and knowledge of why his own master would betray him.
Episode 1: The Way of All Flesh
Caleb searches for his lost love, Ophelia Price, who has been taken by Cheogh.
- E1M1: Cradle to Grave
- E1M2: Wrong Side of the Tracks
- E1M3: Phantom Express
- E1M4: Dark Carnival (entrance to secret level)
- E1M5: Hallowed Grounds
- E1M6: The Great Temple
- E1M7: Altar of Stone (boss level)
- E1M8: House of Horrors (secret level)
Episode 2: Even Death May Die
In order to discover the fate of his fellow Chosen, Gabriel, Caleb delves into the lair of Shial, the Mother of Spiders.
- E2M1: Shipwrecked
- E2M2: The Lumber Mill
- E2M3: Rest for the Wicked
- E2M4: The Overlooked Hotel (entrance to secret level)
- E2M5: The Haunting
- E2M6: The Cold Rush
- E2M7: Bowels of the Earth
- E2M8: The Lair of Shial (boss level)
- E2M9: Thin Ice (secret level)
Episode 3: A Farewell to Arms
Caleb seeks vengeance on Cerberus, the beast responsible for the death of Ishmael.
- E3M1: Ghost Town
- E3M2: The Siege
- E3M3: Raw Sewage
- E3M4: The Sick Ward (entrance to secret level)
- E3M5: Spare Parts
- E3M6: Monster Bait
- E3M7: The Pit of Cerberus (boss level)
- E3M8: Catacombs (secret level)
Episode 4: Dead Reckoning
Having slain all of his lieutenants, Caleb sets his sights on the evil Tchernobog himself.
- E4M1: Butchery Loves Company
- E4M2: Breeding Grounds
- E4M3: Charnel House
- E4M4: Crystal Lake (entrance to secret level)
- E4M5: Fire and Brimstone
- E4M6: The Ganglion Depths
- E4M7: In The Flesh
- E4M8: The Hall of the Epiphany (boss level)
- E4M9: Mall of the Dead (secret level)
Blood shipped originally with twelve weapons, nine of which came with alternate firing modes. The Plasma Pak later added new firing methods to the Incinerator and the Life Leech, which left only the Pitchfork without an alternate mode. While Blood does have a few FPS staples, such as a double barreled shotgun and the Incinerator, a device which is more or less a rocket launcher, a fair number of the game's armaments yield unique and interesting effects.
- Primary Fire: Caleb stabs the area directly in front of him.
- Secondary Fire: Produces the same attack as the primary fire button.
- Ammo: None
- Primary Fire: Shoots a single flare which can latch onto an enemy causing damage over time and immolating them if their health is low enough.
- Secondary Fire: Fires a flare that separates into eight individual projectiles that each explode on contact and continue burning enemies afterward.
- Ammo: Flares
- Primary Fire: Fires a single shell. Two shells may be fired in quick succession before a reload.
- Secondary Fire: Fires both barrels followed by an immediate reload. Fires a single shell if there is only one in the chamber.
- Ammo: Shells
- Primary Fire: Fires a constant stream of bullets wherever the player's reticle is pointing.
- Secondary Fire: Sprays in a wide arc in front of Caleb before returning to center. While this can be useful on crowds, it is not the most efficient use of ammo.
- Ammo: Bullets
- Primary Fire: Fires a large ball of napalm which explodes upon contact, setting any enemies caught in its radius on fire, which causes sustained damage and carries a chance of immolation.
- Secondary Fire: Fires an even larger ball of napalm that explodes into smaller ones, causing devastation over a much wider area. (Plasma Pak only)
- Ammo: Gasoline
- Primary Fire: Caleb lights a bundle of TNT and begins charging a throw. The length of time the button is held determines how far the bundle is thrown.
- Secondary Fire: Lights a bundle without throwing it. It can be thrown normally with the primary fire button or dropped at the player's feet with the secondary. Detonates after a few seconds.
- Ammo: TNT
- Primary Fire: Identical to the primary fire for dynamite, though the bundle will only explode when an enemy (or the player) comes within range.
- Secondary Fire: Drops the bundle at the player's feet. It activates after a small delay, after which it will explode when an enemy (or the player) is near.
- Ammo: TNT
- Primary Fire: Identical to the primary fire for dynamite, but the player can manually trigger the detonation by pressing the primary fire again.
- Secondary Fire: Drops the bundle at the player's feet. The bundle must still be detonated manually.
- Ammo: TNT
- Primary Fire: In Blood, the Aerosol Can acts as an improvised flamethrower, setting all nearby enemies on fire and eventually causing immolation with sufficient exposure.
- Secondary Fire: The player lights the can like a molotov cocktail. At this point pressing the secondary fire again drops the can, while the primary fire button charges for a throw.
- Ammo: Aerosol Cans
- Primary Fire: A rapid-fire stream of electrical energy emanates from the gun.
- Secondary Fire: Charges the device in order to release a massive electrical blast.
- Ammo: Tesla Charges
- Primary Fire: Fires a stream of fireballs, granting hit points to the player when living targets are hit. Using it without ammo drains the player's vitality.
- Secondary Fire: Places the weapon on the ground where it acts as a turret, firing at any enemy within range. (Plasma Pak only)
- Ammo: Life Leeches
- Primary Fire: Caleb stabs the doll, which damages the enemy directly in front of the player. If there are no enemies about, this harms the player instead.
- Secondary Fire: Caleb waves his hand over the doll, which causes massive damage and can affect multiple enemies within the player's line-of-sight.
- Ammo: Voodoo Dolls
There are three main types of items in Blood: heath & armor pickups, inventory items, and power-ups. The first category increases the player's vitality and damage mitigation, the second consists of items which may be carried and used at a later time, and the last includes items that grant powerful temporary benefits.
Health & Armor Pickups
- Heals 20 hit points, but will not heal the player in excess of 100 hit points.
- While Life Essence is most typically dropped by enemies upon death, it can sometimes be found in the environment.
- Heals the player for a full 100 hit points, up to a potential maximum of 200 hit points.
- Usually found in secret areas, though late-game enemies also drop them upon death.
- Grants the player 50 points of damage protection in each type of armor: fire, body, and spirit.
- Other than Super Armor, this is the only armor type that grants multiple types of protection.
- Gives Caleb an immediate 100 points of fire protection.
- Fire Armor wards against any fire-based attacks, such as explosions and Hell Hound breath.
- Bestows 100 points of body armor upon the player.
- Body Armor protects against melee attacks and gunfire.
- This item grants 100 points of spirit protection.
- Shields the player from spirit damage, which is not incredibly useful in single-player.
- Gives the player 200 points of body, fire, and spirit armor.
- 200 points is the maximum armor value a player can have.
- Glasses which make enemies appear more brightly in the environment.
- It should be noted that Beast Vision only affects monsters, and will not help to illuminate darker areas within levels.
Crystal Ball (Multiplayer Only)
- Grants the ability to see other players through walls.
- This can be cycled to show different players by pressing the inventory use key again.
- Allows the player to stay submerged underwater longer than normally possible.
- Activates automatically if the player is submerged for a long enough period.
- Heals the player up to a total of 100 hit points and saves unused points for later use.
- Can heal up to 100 hit points in total.
- Temporarily allows the player to jump preternaturally high.
- Mainly used to access areas that would otherwise be unreachable.
Cloak of Invisibility
- Renders the player semi-transparent.
- Enemies will notice the player if fired upon.
- Fairly straightforward invincibility power-up.
- Negates all damage for a short period of time.
- Allows certain weapons to be dual-wielded, which includes the Flare Gun, Shotgun, Thompson's, and the Incinerator.
- In the Plasma Pak, the Tesla Cannon may also be dual-wielded.
- Reflects bullets and certain melee attacks.
- Some types of damage are not nullified, such as fire and explosive damage.
Blood opponents are generally divided into three categories: low-level, standard, and boss. The first group is composed of smaller foes that pose more of an annoyance than a true threat, and can generally be defeated with little firepower. The second consists of normal sized enemies that can cause more damage and take more of a beating. The last group is comprised of exceedingly rare monsters that are found at the end of each episode.
Bat Bats only loosely qualify as enemies, as they don't actively seem to be interested in harming the player, and it is only really possible to be injured by one by wandering into its path. Given a wide berth, they can be safely ignored.
Rat The lowest form of land-based enemy, Rats are nonetheless dangerous as they will scurry quickly toward the player where they are much more difficult to target. They are too small to climb even minor ledges, however, so finding higher ground can often leave them harmless.
Bone Eel One of only a couple aquatic enemies in the game, Bone Eels are the seafaring equivalent of Rats. Seeing as it is usually prudent to spend as little time underwater as necessary, it is in many cases wiser to swim past these creatures to dry land rather than waste ammo and risk drowning in order to fighting them.
Spider The only low-level creature to come in two varieties, Spiders are notable for the status effects they inflict on the player. The bite of a Red Spider will cause a disorienting camera tilt effect for a few seconds and the Green Spider can cause temporary blindness. Special care should be taken when spiders are in the midst of other enemies, as either of these effects can make a simple firefight extremely difficult.
Choking Hand Easily the most dangerous foe in this category, these disembodied hands latch onto the player's neck and quickly drain life until they are removed. This is accomplished by repeatedly pressing the use key, and once done the Choking Hand must still be killed lest it attach itself again.
Zombie Zombies are the game's basic opponent. Equipped with a simple axe melee attack and relatively low hit points, they run headlong at the player attempting to hack them to pieces. Due to their lack of any ranged attack, they are not particularly threatening even in large numbers, though fights in close quarters can present a challenge. Zombies in some cases are able to get back up after being knocked down.
Bloated Butcher A larger, slower, and more corpulent version of the standard Zombie, the Butcher comes with significantly more hit points and two projectile attacks, a cleaver toss and the ability to spew corrosive vomit. Neither projectile is extremely quick, so staying at medium range can allow quick players to avoid damage long enough to whittle him down.
Cultist / Fanatic Perhaps the most consistently troublesome enemy in the game, both versions of this foe come equipped with a deadly hitscan weapon which can rapidly drain the vitality of even a healthy player. The brown-cloaked Cultists have shotguns, while the gray-garbed Fanatics carry tommy guns. Both wield dynamite, and either can cause significant damage any time they have line-of-sight with the player. They will also occasionally go prone in order to avoid return fire. Cultists and Fanatics drop ammunition for their respective weapons upon death.
Gargoyle Flying enemies who often lie in wait as inconspicuous statues, Gargoyles are extremely hardy and have a penchant for attacking the player when otherwise occupied. They can rip at the flesh up close and toss a bone projectile while at range. Staying close can be a valid strategy, as they will usually forgo ranged attacks when near the player. Stone Gargoyles are essentially Cheogh in all but name, and should therefor be treated as such.
Hell Hound While they have a melee attack when in close, it is their fiery breath which makes Hell Hounds truly dangerous, as the flames can sap significant vitality before they go out. They are best killed before they get near, though their speed makes this a tricky proposition. Either take them down quickly, or find a means to keep them at bay.
Gill Beast Though indigenous to water, Gill Beasts will follow the player onto dry land given the opportunity. This is somewhat of a blessing, as their lack of any ranged attack makes them fairly easy to dispatch. While submerged, they behave more or less like a larger, tougher version of the Bone Eel.
Phantasm Semi-ethereal beings who are only vulnerable while attacking, Phantasms have both a scythe and a ghostly project at their disposal. Watch for them to turn from partially transparent to opaque, as that is the cue to attack. Its scythe in particular causes tremendous damage, so properly timing one's attacks is crucial.
Cheogh (aka Stone Gargoyle) The Lord of all its brethren, Cheogh is a massive gray Gargoyle with incredible resilience. He fires a pair of blue fireballs from his eyes that travel with great speed toward the player, and his wings allow him to move quickly around the field of battle. He is encountered at the end of the first episode as well as later episodes where he is rechristen the Stone Gargoyle.
Shial (aka Mother Spider) The proverbial "Mother of Spiders," Shial lives deep within the earth surrounded by her eight-legged spawn. Though she is quite large and capable of conjuring her fellow arachnids, there is not much else to distinguish her from other Spiders. In fact, she cannot attack directly, making this unequivocally the easiest boss encounter in the game. Shial awaits at the end of the second episode and also shows up in later levels as a regular monster, though this version is referred to as Mother Spider.
| Cerberus is the penultimate boss of Blood, being a larger and tougher two-headed version of the standard Hell Hound. True to his infernal nature, he belches fiery death at all who enter his lair, being able to hurl explosive fireballs from both heads simultaneously. His tenacity will also spur him to attack even after his first head is killed. Cerberus can be found in the third episode as a boss as well as a couple of instances in the fourth episode.|
| Evil god and former master of Caleb, Tchernobog is an exceedingly powerful entity and the leader of the Cultists and other monstrosities the player fights throughout the rest of the game. He is capable of setting the player on fire as well as conjuring explosive blue flames. He is the final enemy to be confronted in the game's fourth and final episode.|
Blood saw two commercial expansions, Plasma Pak, created by Monolith, and Cryptic Passage, developed by Sunstorm Interactive. Both add-ons augmented the original game with an entirely new episode (bringing the total to six), with Plasma Pak also having other notable additions such as new enemies and new firing modes for existing weapons. Having the Plasma Pak installed also allows these new firing modes to be used in Blood's original episodes.
Minimum System Requirements
- Windows XP / Vista
- 1 GHz processor (1.4 GHz recommended)
- 256MB RAM (512MB recommended)
- 3D graphics card compatible with DirectX 7 (compatible with DirectX 9 recommended)